Over 97,000 participants from around the world—heads of state, government officials, climate experts, and leaders of global industrial sectors, went to Dubai (United Arab Emirates) to attend the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (commonly referred to as COP28).
This year’s event was held from November 30th to December 13th, with many talks regarding of climate change—perhaps the most important COP yet, as it follows the publication of the IPCC’s sixth assessment report in March 2023. But, what is COP, why is it important, and what are the outcomes made at COP28?
To understand COP, we must delve into the background of UNFCCC.
With world leaders now focusing on climate change, in 1992, countries joined an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as a framework for international cooperation address the issue of climate change.
By 1995, negotiations were underway to solidify the global response. Two years later, the Kyoto Protocol emerged, legally binding developed nations to emission reduction targets. Its first phase ran from 2008 to 2012, paving the way for further action. In 2015, however, countries agreed on yet another legally binding climate treaty, the Paris Agreement, which entered into force in November 2016 and effectively replaced the Kyoto Protocol.
There are now 197 Parties to the Convention and 192 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, agreeing to combat harmful human impacts on the climate. Since then, COP meetings have been held (almost) annually to discuss how exactly that should be achieved, and monitor what progress has been made. COP brings together leaders from governments, businesses, NGOs, and other key stakeholders from across the world.
Each year a different country becomes the COP president, in charge of organizing and running that year’s meeting. This year’s COP28 was held in Dubai, UAE with Sultan Al Jaber as the president, famously known as the UAE's Special Envoy for Climate Change and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology.
COP28, as the latest annual meeting, represents the most recent opportunity to boost collective ambition on climate action and support. But, what exactly are the key takeaways from COP28 and its resulting agreement?
Transition from fossil fuels
The COP28 conference has reached a historic agreement to transition from fossil fuels, marking the first time the international community has expressed a unified desire to work towards ending our reliance on fossil fuels. The final Global Stocktake agreement, signed on 13th, calls on countries to transition away from fossil fuels and phase down coal use. However, critics argue that the language is vague and the text allows for a just transition, with potential loopholes in carbon capture and storage technology. OPEC countries, led by Saudi Arabia, were strongly against the inclusion of fossil fuels, and the agreement should be celebrated as an achievement in the global push to end our reliance on fossil fuels.
Loss and Damage fund
The Loss and Damage Fund, first conceived at COP27, was adopted by governments at COP28. Several countries pledged financial support: the host country's UAE, USA, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, Denmark, Norway, Ireland, Canada, and Slovenia, totaling 700 million USD. The fund's board is set to finalize the framework and kick-start operations in January. The fund's success is a testament to the fight against climate change.
COP28 highlighted the gap in meeting the Paris Agreement's goals and the need for more robust climate plans. The Global Stocktake process, a core component of the agreement, revealed that current commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not enough to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Financial constraints, particularly for developing nations, have exacerbated these debt burdens, leading to a call for a rethinking of the global financial system to better support climate action.
COP28 emphasized renewable energy as the future, urging countries to triple their capacity by 2030, signaling the end of fossil fuels and encouraging further investment in the sector.
The COP28 agreement is seen as a historic win by some, but also a compromise where everyone loses. The final text has some loopholes, leaving room for oil companies and oil-producing states. However, the international consensus is that the era of fossil fuels is coming to an end, and renewable energy is the future.
Next year’s COP29 will be hosted by Azerbaijan, should present an opportunity to tighten these loopholes and solidify commitments to renewable energy. It also presents a critical opportunity for establishing a new climate finance goal, emphasizing adaptation, loss, and damage, and mobilizing political will and financial resources for a more sustainable future. The world needs COP29 to produce stronger, more concrete actions against climate change and set a clear path towards a sustainable and green future.
Jejakin is a climate tech company that focuses on creating solutions to mitigate climate change. Utilizing AI and IoT as the foundation of our technology, Jejakin aims to establish a circular economy through our platform, accelerating our clients' journey towards achieving net-zero emissions.